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I'm on a portrait kick.

Frank Horvat (French photographer -- one of the better photographers you've likely never heard of -- said in an interview that he wished he had taken more portraits. Me, too. Putting deed to word I've been on kind of a portrait hunt for a while and intend to continue.

My definition of a portrait is "a photograph taken of a person with their cooperation or at least consent". Painters make a distinction between a portrait (representing a specific person) and a genre painting (representing an unspecified person). Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is a genre painting -- a beautiful girl but not a specific beautiful girl.

This month's Print of the Month (or thereabouts) is definitely a portrait. I walked by her booth at the Bellevue Art Fair a couple of times before I found her not talking to a prospective customer. As it turned out she was very much at ease with my photographing her -- her mom is a portrait photographer and she is used to the idea.

For the technical folks out there -- I'm still using Ilford FP4 film rated at ISO 100 (a bit overexposed) so I have more control over depth of field.

Her hand is a bit out of the depth of field and the merchandise behind her is way out -- just what I wanted.

Playing Scales

Musicians, even as rusty ones as I am, play scales. It's part of the warm up ritual for every practice session -- gets the fingers in motion and the chops warmed up, makes you listen to each rising or falling note to keep everything in tune.

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing scales when I'm out with a camera. Even when I'm not jumping with excitement about what's in front of me, I keep on photographing. The little voice inside my head keeps saying "You're never going to print that." but I try to ignore it. I'm keeping my eye in motion and my handling of the camera automatic.

While eating breakfast on our deck on a lovely Seattle morning I watched the shadow of the railing crawl across the side of the house. Not my usual subject matter -- more like something Paul Strand would have liked. I got my Rolleiflex and a tripod (not my usual bag, either) and waited until the shadow completed the triangle. It's a nice print (very pretty negative) and I like it. But doing it feels like playing scales.

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